Some Will Call It a March

Some will call it a march, as you walk to your seat at graduation, but you know that you would call it something else.

Photo: BAIM HANIF, Unsplash

Photo: BAIM HANIF, Unsplash

You probably wouldn’t call it a funeral march, but you’d say it’s pretty close.

The sounds of cheering friends and family will not deter from the emotional reality and the knowledge that getting this far has taken a lot out of you.

You’re a survivor.

There’s no cord for that.

There’s no cord given for that semester of your junior year when you lost a friend or family member, or the summer of your sophomore year when you got your heartbroken. There’s no cord for living with a roommate who did not grasp the concept of quiet time while you were studying. There’s no cord for the carefully crafted rhetoric you had to deliver to explain your cultural identity on a daily basis to arrive at normalcy — while carrying the hopes and dreams of your immigrant parents on your back and maintaining a 3.0 GPA at the same time.

There’s no cord to commemorate the way you smiled through depression and anxiety while being available for four different extra-curricular activities. There’s no cord for arriving to all of your classes on time, despite taking public transportation. There’s no cord for returning to college after having a child while continuing to work a full time job.

There’s no cord for the five, six, or seven-year journey you’ve been on to complete your degree. There’s no cord for the gap years and semesters of feeling like life was on pause while your friends pushed forward. There’s no cord for working through the feeling of failure when it feels like you’ll never really catch up.

There’s no cord for sustaining an injury in the sport that got you a full ride to college and the struggle to find your identity outside of your athletic ability. There’s no cord for the disability that made you take a little more time than others to complete tasks and for maintaining the perseverance to try everything while others took the liberty of slacking off.

There’s no cord for the personal discovery of your true self and recovery from hurt and healing that you’ve found in community with others who allowed you to be your true self... There’s no cord for the courage to return home, knowing that you won’t have that anymore.

Some will skip, some will walk, some will pace themselves with slow breaths as they reach for their diplomas. As they crinkle up pamphlets with their names, marked in bold or italics or asterisks(*). They will hear their names called with distinction, adorned in their cords and sashes, but you will simply hear your name.

And that’s enough.

Some will call it a march, but you know it’s been more of a hike, with peaks and valleys. You know that the weather wasn’t always clear, and there wasn’t always a clear sign of the next step. There wasn’t always a person by your side, there wasn’t always a seat with your name on it.

Some will call it a march, but you know it’s much more than that. It’s the determination to look forward, knowing you’ve come too far to look back. It’s knowing the circumstances that you’ve survived has shaped you uniquely — I am pleased to inform you that that is the very definition of distinction.

Some will call it a march, but as you step towards progress, with your head held high, shoulders back with flared focus, don’t be afraid to call it what it deeply and truly is:

A swagger.

Originally posted on on May 5, 2017. A tribute to the graduating class of 2017 at Eastern Nazarene College.

Rose PercyComment